NIRAÑJAN SIṄGH, PROFESSOR (1892-1979), educationist and writer, was born in 1892, the youngest of the five sons of Bhāī Gopī Chand and Māī Mūlāṅ Devī, a Sahijdhārī Sikh couple of the village of Hariāl in Gujjarkhān tahsīl, Rāwalpiṇḍī district (now in Pakistan). His father died in 1901 and his brothers, Gaṅgā Siṅgh and the one who became famous as Master Tārā Singh took charge of him and supported him through school. After his primary classes in the village school, Nirañjan Siṅgh came to Amritsar where he matriculated at the Khālsā Collegiate School and passed his M.Sc. (chemistry) from the Khālsā College in 1916. He won a scholarship and was sent by the university to Agricultural College, Lyallpur, for research. In December 1917 he joined Forman Christian College, Lahore, as a lecturer in chemistry, but shifted to Khālsā College, Amritsar, in April 1918. At the call of Mahātmā Gāndhī for non-cooperation with government, Nirañjan Siṅgh cast off his western clothes and started wearing khādī (fabric of home-spun cotton) which remained his dress throughout the rest of his life. He also took part in the Gurdwārā Reform movement for which he suffered jail in 1924 in the Jaito campaign.
During the first assembly elections under the Government of India Act, 1935, held in January 1937, Nirañjan Siṅgh and a few other professors of the college worked in support of the candidates of the Akālī-Congress coalition against the candidates of the Chief Khālsā Dīwān, to which the college officially belonged, including its principal spokesman, Sir Sundar Siṅgh Majīṭhīā. Sir Sundar Siṅgh carried his seat, and became a member of the Punjab Government which was formed at the end of the elections. Five of the college faculty were dismissed from service on 10 August 1937. Nirañjan Siṅgh was among them. They, with the help of some of the leading Akālīs set up a new college at Lahore — the Sikh National College. Nirañjan Siṅgh became its Principal and remained at the helm of affairs until the partition of India in 1947.
Nirañjan Siṅgh then joined the newly established Pañjāb University with its headquarters at Solan, and was deputed to run honours classes in chemistry on behalf of the University in Delhi. In 1949 he came to Hoshiārpur as head of the chemistry department at the University College there. In September 1950, he was appointed principal of the Camp College in Delhi from which post he resigned in June 1955. Thereafter he decided to serve in honorary capacity. He worked for a term as principal of Gurū Tegh Bahādur Khālsā College in Delhi. In June 1958 he established a new college at Fatehgaṛh Sāhib in memory of the mother of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, Mātā Gujarī. He raised funds, supervised construction of the buildings, and set up laboratories.
In January 1961, he took over as principal at Khālsā College, Bombay. The college needed a great deal of attention which Nirañjan Siṅgh was able to provide.
In spite of his training as a scientist, Nirañjan Siṅgh retained his interest in literature. He published three novels (Prem Kaṇī, Navāṅ Jug and Navāṅ Samāj) and a collection of short stories entitled Nauṅ Kaṇīāṅ. After his final farewell to teaching, he settled down to writing full-time. His published works, all in Punjabi, are Shakar Rog dī Kahāṇī (Apṇi Zabānī), Jīvan Yātrā Master Tārā Siṅgh (1968), Jīvan Vikās (1970), Jīvan Jugat (1971) and Dharam ate Sāīṅs dā Joṛ (1976).
Nirañjan Siṅgh died in Delhi on 8 March 1979.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)